This is just a thought. I know the westside system works and is designed a certain way.
But I was thinking about the programming Ive been writing for myself and came up with something is like to try and would enjoy doing.
I'm under the impression that the standard for conjugate training is using speed days and me days. On max effort, you switch the main lifts every three weeks. This is where my question lies. I'll use bench press max effort day as an example.
I was thinking about doing say, 3 weeks close grip bench, and on the 4th week test my regular bench 1rm. Then 3 weeks of incline bench, then test regular bench max the following week.
So I would never do bench for three weeks in a row, but would always test my max on the last week of the training month.
Does this make sense? Does it sound like a logical idea to base my programming around?
You'll be repeating too quickly and your PRs may stall rather quickly. You need a bit wider variety of ME exercises.
Most people who adhere to Westside training switch ME exercises every week now as we do at Westside
I agree with Travis. You need the variety in your ME lifts so you don't stall and to also address weak points in your lifts. ME exercises should not just be picked randomly (not that you were). They need to have a purpose to make your bench press stronger. I use a closer grip and accomodating resistance regularly in my rotation because I stall at lockout. Plus with trial and error I have found which exercises carryover best to my bench.
Also, I don't agree with testing your bench every 4 weeks. The point of the programming is, if you choose the right exercises for you and they go up, your bench will go up. I test my bench at the meet.
Travis you guys will rotate as many as 12 ME exercises? You might even be doing more with your double sessions?
I do agree with Travis and Vincent, but I also think that repeating an exercise for 2-3 weeks has it's benefits. It gives your body a chance to get used to it and "perfect" it over 3 weeks or so. I always go back to football. If you want to throw an out-route in football, you don't throw fades, you throws out-routes. So, I see no problem with using an exercise for 3 weeks then switching. It may not be what Westside does, but that's ok.
You still need to choose exercises that will help your competition bench. I use:
as my main movements that drive my competition bench, along with competition benching.
I agree that testing every month is not wise. Maybe every 3-4 months or so. Let the program work before you try to test something. 4 weeks isn't enough time for anything to work.
Even if I'm at the point where adding 10lbs a month to my bench is easily attainable? For the next 4-5 months at least.
I'm sorry, I hate to be the idiot who argues with the experts. But are you guys taking into consideration my level of strength? I'm not elite like you guys. No where near it. I see myself benching 340-360 in the next four months. If I waited the whole four months before testing my 1RM you think I could hit a 50lb PR? That seems ridiculous, but would be freakin awesome.
I also tried doing 2 weeks of a ME exercise before moving on to the next ME exercise, and that just didn't work for me. Second week was always worse than the first. But after I changed it to one week per ME exercise then when I would come back to that one in the rotation it would be higher than the previous time.
I also don't follow a westside template closely anymore, although I do include some of their principles into my training. Speed bench did little for me, and I benefit from 5x5 at this point a lot better.
Regarding the retesting, the way i look it is that by retesting your bench in a session, you just wasted one training session where you could have worked on building your bench press and getting stronger.
Have confidence in your training and use the check's and balances in the program (are your ME lifts going up) to determine if you are moving forward.
10lbs a month on bench is a huge amount, thats going from 315 (from your sig) to 365 in 5 months. At 315 I would think you are way past the newbie gains (which even for someone new to the game 50 lbs in 5 months is huge) and would probably hit a brick wall a lot faster than you think (happened to me multiple times). I'd hit my new PR one month and the next couldn't make the increase. I've since changed my attitude to very small gains so I don't stall or miss.
I'm not trying to trash you in the slightest, so please don't take it the wrong way, but what makes you think that 10lbs a month on bench is easily attainable for you? Have you had the same kind of consistent gains before?
Best Gym Lifts:
475 - 315 - 585
Best Meet Lifts (220 Raw)
435 - 295 - 555 (1285)
Testing your bench doesn't improve it. It simply lets you know where you are at.
So the more frequently you test it, the more frequently you are not using that week to improve strength.
And yes, putting that much on your bench that quick is unlikely, not impossible but quite unlikely
If you want to improve your bench, you need to bench. You can use special exercises to help build it, but you still need to bench.
I train my contest bench form once a week and have been doing this for years. I also use special exercises to target certain weakness in my press as I move through my training. The one constant that never changes is I contest bench once a week. How can you get good at someting if you don't constantly practice it? You can't.
You can do whatever you choose. There are both sides of the argument here. A few say top change every week. A few say not to. It's your call. If you realy want to figure out how to train then you need to pick one philosophy and run with it for at least a year or so. You need to do the work and see what it brings.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I've watched Peyton Manning throw 100's of routes to his receivers before games. The same route over and over and over and over. Come game time, it's like practice. Done it 100times before. I feel the same about perfecting a lift.
Whatever you choose, commit to it and get after it.
Matt out of curiosity, why is it you think that Westside doesn't have you practicing your bench??
I bench twice a week?
DE bench is a great place to practice form. You get to "regular" bench every week with it. If you are not incorporating DE/RE you are not doing conjugate.
I benched 305 over a year ago. About 2 months ago my max was about 255. It's now 315. I'm making big gains in overhead presses, inclines, and close grips currently. So I do see myself gaining 10lbs a month for a while at least.
Btw, thanks for all the replies, I enjoy reading them and gaining some knowledge, I especially appreciate that a lot of you are some of the best in the world and are taking the time to teach me some stuff.
When and how do you know an exercise is working for you? Say you have 5 lifts in rotation on ME day so each lift gets its turn every 6 weeks and you don't do the main lifts during this time. Let's say I have floor press, rev band press, 2-board bench, close grip with 50lb chains and swiss bar bench in my ME day rotation. When and how can I determine that swiss bar bench did nothing for my bench? Or that floor press and rev band press helped my bench go up especially if I haven't even had bench press as an ME lift in some time.
When and how do you know an exercise is working for you?
If you can relate progress in say a floor press to your comp style bench then it is likely an effective exercise. A 20 pound floor press PR with no progress in your comp style bench shows that it is of little value to getting your bench up. Throw too many variables into your training though and it becomes harder to sort out. My example has two simple variables, actually training has way more.
Personally I keep exercises the same for a couple weeks at a time and modify volume and intensity.
You have to develop a body of work to start knowing the effectiveness of an exercise. It's also a trial and error process. When I took inclines out, my raw bench stalled. So I added it back in. When I added close grip work my lockout improved. I have done DE bench both light and heavy. My best results were when I waved heavy weight/resistance.
There is going to be no magic formula or answer. You learn these things through hard work and trial and error.
I think Westside is great when you train at Westside. When you don't or if you're new to lifting, I just don't think the lifts are practiced enough. Box squatting isn't squatting. It just isn't the same.
I know there have been some changes over the years at Westside, but most of the literature out there says not to use your competition bench grip in training because there's no need to. I read all the articles when I started powerlifting.
I know Westside works, I just don't believe it's the best way to train, especially if you don't train at Westside.
Would you advocate for say Shieko or Smolov for someone like the op then?
Well since we are talking about benching in this thread, I'll leave the box squatting thing alone.
Your point was that Westside doesn't practice the movements enough, that if you want to get better at benching you need to bench. My point is that Westside DOES have you benching.
I'd really disagree that DE work isn't heavy enough for people to do it incorrectly. I've seen tons of people do DE work with sloppy and unlocked form. However when done correctly it's a great benefit to teaching how to move heavy weights explosively.
As far as the close grip thing (saying that we use it too much) I've never seen Louie write that people are to use it exclusively. We do rotate it into every training cycle because of how it helps the lockout. Close grip will put more of the weight into your triceps as well as force you to move the weight extra distance. Just by the physics of this idea, if you train your body to practice moving weights say 8" and then test your bench and only have to move it 6" its going to be easier.
Close grip benching is more difficult than competition grip benching, so I'm not sure why you think its going to hurt your competition grip bench. That said, you can still do a Westside template and do all the competition grip stuff you want.
In my opinion there really isn't another program out there that allows a program to develop specifically for a person to attack their individual weaknesses. While it does require a person to put some thought into their programming and figure out which exercises work for them and which don't, no other program out there really allows for that.
If you look at the system just by the sheer results of it, it's turned out 7 or 8, 800+lb benchers in the last few years. Dave is going to bench 1000 before too long. Unless I'm mistaken, no other program has had such success.
just my 2 cents. I don't think you can discredit the program just because you don't have the luxury of having Louie looking over your shoulder.
You train at Westside, so you obviously are biased, as I would be. It comes back to my original point, "practice". To me, practicing a close-grip or anything other than the competition bench is NOT pratice. It's similar, but NOT practice.
Throwing a post is NOT the same as throwing a seam route.
I also stated that I believe in using the special exercises to build the bench. My point again, competiton benching is the only practice for competition benching. We can both argue this point, but in my eyes, we just won't agree on it.
There are 2 official 1000lb benchers and they didn't follow Westside. I'm sure they used concepts, as does anyone who powerlfits. Any program works if you believe in it and there's an ounce of science involved. IS Westside a great program? Of course. I never argued against that.
Once I got to a plateau, I found much more success moving away from Westside.
Still, it can't be argued that it works.